The concept may sound intolerably silly — a guy ties balloons to a lawn-chair and floats away — but this uncomplicated Aussie farce is a charmer.
In fact, Danny Deckchair is reminiscent of an old-fashioned romantic comedy: silly, simple and sweet, without an ounce of pessimism to it.
Danny (Rhys Ifans) is a Sydney cement worker caught in a dead-end relationship with Trudy (Justine Clarke), a social climber who is growing more unsatisfied with Danny.
Danny, on the other hand, is growing more restless for adventure. So, one day, without much calculation or planning, he ties a bunch of balloons to his deckchair and drifts off. His flight and disappearance spark a manhunt and media frenzy. Happy-go-lucky Danny, however, lands in a quaint little town and finds a chance for true love and a new life.
The purity of the whole idea is compelling: Who hasn’t stared at a bunch of balloons and wondered how many it would take to achieve liftoff?
Writer and director Jeff Balsmeyer brings an understated approach to the story, which, in other hands, might have become too campy or ridiculous to enjoy.
Still, there are a few overly sappy moments, including an all-too-earnest motivational speech Danny delivers to his new town, hammering home the “little people can do big things” philosophy a little too hard. But, in general, Balsmeyer infuses the film with a laid-back, cheerful tone that proves to be endearing rather than sickeningly sappy.
Ifans portrays Danny as lovable but not foolish; this actor can do the outrageous (he was the evil older brother in Little Nicky and Hugh Grant’s slovenly roommate in Notting Hill), but here he’s more subtle, playing Danny with a tender, heartwarming smile.
Miranda Otto also shines as Glenda, Danny’s new sweetheart who’s not so sweet on falling in love.
There are few surprises as Danny works to win her heart — and manages to win over ours too.
Showing at the Maple Art Theatre, 4135 W. Maple Road, Bloomfield Hills. Call 248-263-2111.
E-mail Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey at [email protected].